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Dealing With a Diagnostic Dilemma: What Would You Do?

On Saturday, Dec. 1, I turn 55, and I pause at the irony of life bringing an uncertain diagnosis at this turning point. Have you had moments that you knew were turning points in self-discovery?
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Sometimes a diagnosis is straightforward, and other times it is perplexing. I was thrown into a tizzy recently and have been living inside a question mark of uncertainty for over a month. I know the GPS of my Soul is a reliable informer, but the outside world is powerful and persuasive. The real question is, "How do we know what to do when faced with a significant health-related diagnostic dilemma?"

Here's the story:

For two years I have been under the watchful eye of a pulmonologist at the University of Michigan. A nodule located in the upper left lobe of my lung was deemed suspicious from a CAT scan. You see, I joined a study involving offspring of parents who were diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and I thought I was doing a good deed giving my body to science. I even rationalized that a little radiation was "OK."

I breezed through all the tests in the four-hour study -- fast walking, lung capacity measurements and hours of questionnaires, and it felt good to contribute to medical research. Imagine my shock when a follow-up call came with an urgent plea to schedule an expedited visit to the cancer center. I was told, "We will monitor the nodule and take a PET scan and two more CAT scans over the course of two years."

As a holistic-oriented person and a student of positive thinking, affirmation and visualization, I said, from day one, "In two years time, when the watching ends, the doctor will dismiss me." A review of the third and final CAT scan resulted in the doctor saying everything looked good but the radiologist's report would rule. My doctor did indeed dismiss me on that day. The radiologists did not.

An apologetic phone call from the pulmonologist catalyzed a month-long dilemma. The radiologist's report indicated a slight growth in the nodule and, therefore, classified it as a carcinoma, until proven otherwise. To prove it otherwise requires its removal by a thoracic surgeon. A second and third opinion offered the same response: "Just take it out."

"Until it is in the bottle," I was told by doctor number three, "we do not know if it is malignant or benign."

On Saturday, Dec. 1, I turn 55, and I pause at the irony of life bringing an uncertain diagnosis at this turning point. Have you had moments that you knew were turning points in self-discovery? Or faced a time in your life where digging deep into your soul was the only way to find your truth?

Sorting the wheat from the chafe, managing the concern of friends and family and accessing the depth of my inner compass, have given way to a decision. First, I defined the dilemma. Either defy the doctors or deny my knowledge of holistic and alternative medicine? I learned it is one thing to know what to do -- and another to do it. I know sugar and acidic foods are not good for me, nor is dairy or mercury-laden fish. I know I do not exercise enough or manage negative thinking. So finally, after much debate and struggle, the dilemma has now become a cause for action. I hired a health coach; I am beginning a regimen of cellular nourishment and taking six months to apply years of knowledge to restoring the health and homeostasis of my body. I will retest in June and if the CAT scan indicates further growth, I will have to reconsider my options, once again.

I do not know what this journey will produce. I do know I am listening to the GPS of my Soul and will learn about being devoted to wellness.

I promise to share the journey with you and out of curiosity, I wonder, what would you do?

For more by Liz Sterling, M.A., click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.